Sister Margaret Smyth to be honored as Good Samaritan by national Catholic organization

BARBARAELLEN KOCH FILE PHOTO | Sister Margaret Smyth of the North Fork Apostolate in her Riverhead office.

Sr. Margaret Rose Smyth, executive director of the North Fork Spanish Apostolate, will receive  the National Catholic Development Conference’s 2012 NCDC Good Samaritan Award Sept. 25 at the 2012 Annual NCDC Conference and Exposition at the Gaylord Opryland in Nashville.

Since 1963, Sr. Margaret Rose has been an activist and educator, working to help minority communities. Well known on eastern Long Island as an advocate for the Latino population, she began her efforts in Crown Heights, Brooklyn, where she taught high school and assisted the Hasidic community. She also ran meetings for thousands, worked in storefronts, marched with Caesar Chavez and ran numerous workshops for women.

An Irish immigrant, Sr. Margaret Rose identified with the challenges of foreign born immigrants: leaving their home country, adjusting to an unfamiliar culture and being far from family and friends. Sr. Margaret Rose was inspired to help the impoverished by empowering them to use their voice, according to an account of her career from the NCDC.

In 1997, Sr. Margaret Rose became the director of the North Fork Spanish Apostolate (NFSA), based in Riverhead and Greenport. It reaches approximately 17,500 low-income residents who are dependent on public transportation. As executive director, Sr. Margaret’s goals have included building opportunities for education and employment and focusing on parenting and immigration issues.

She works with the Long Island Immigrant Alliance, Family Service League, New York Immigration Coalition, Peconic Community Council, Maureen’s Haven, Riverhead Anti-Bias Task Force, area hospitals, and local government and school officials.  She provides healthcare workshops for residents, visits the sick and works with volunteers to coordinate home visits.She created a bilingual court mediation program and English literacy and computer programs, in addition to serving as a translator.

“With rational approaches to co-existence, she is a voice for the voiceless, speaking out for justice,” said Amy Lax of the Sisters of St. Dominic in Amityville. Greenport’s Mayor David Kappell lauded Sr. Margaret Rose as a “powerful leadership example for her entire community in her commitment to practical and humane treatment of the new Hispanic community on the East End.”

According to the NCDC, a national Catholic fundraising organization, the Good Samaritan Award was established in 1968 to recognize those who exemplify concern for others through exceptional service. Nominees must have a life of service that is an outstanding example of the Gospel message, as manifested by the Parable of the Good Samaritan. The nominee’s service has also made a significant impact on the lives of the persons in need and must be actively engaged or recently associated with such services.